Dr. Rutter received her BA in History from UNC-Chapel Hill, then went on to earn her MA in English from North Carolina State University. She then earned her Ph.D. in English from Duquesne University. This semester, she is teaching one section of ENG 230 Reading and Writing About Literature and one section of ENG 250 American Literature 2: 1860 to the Present.
How would you describe yourself as a teacher?
In the classroom, I am committed to helping students forge connections between the literature we read, discuss, and write about and the world beyond the classroom walls. Thus, a lot of my teaching focuses on concrete strategies for strengthening students’ analytical thinking and writing skills—skills that are transferable to students’ personal and, ultimately, professional lives. Also, as a teacher and scholar of Multi-Ethnic American literature, I am often asking students to leave the comfort of their own experiences and think across boundaries of gender, race, sexuality, class, and culture. Sometimes this means leaving the classroom and visiting an art museum or taking a walking tour of historical sites; other times, these cross-cultural exchanges might happen as we share our thoughts on a poem or novel in a Socratic-seminar style discussion. Whatever the structure of the lesson, my goal is for students to view themselves as astute cultural critics capable of making original insights and teaching me a thing of two in the process.
When are your office hours?
Tuesday and Thursday: 1-4pm; or by appointment.
What are you reading?
I recently read Adam Mansbach’s Angry Black White Boy, a fascinating novel about race and performance (and baseball history thrown in for good measure). And, I am about to begin Fran Ross’s Oreo, which takes up similar issues.
What do you think everyone should read?
Claudia Rankine’s recent collection Citizen: An American Lyric (2014) and Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved (1987).
What’s your biggest pet peeve in the classroom/what is a big mistake students tend to make?
My aim in the classroom is to create a safe and productive space, where every student feels comfortable taking intellectual risks. I think it is important to remember that we are a collective striving toward a common goal, rather than a group of individuals striving to make the “best” comment or to score the highest grade. Thus, my proudest moments are when students build on each other’s comments or give a classmate a constructive idea of how to revise an argument. We achieve the most intellectually, I believe, when we work together.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on a monograph about literary representations of African American baseball experiences. I suggest that writers use their representations to trouble the myths about baseball as an athletic and distinctively masculine manifestation of the American dream. Moreover, I contend that playwrights, poets, and novelists play crucial archival roles by filling in the gaps in the historically whitewashed records of the “national pastime.”
What are your other hobbies?
I enjoy listening to music, cooking, and, of course, reading and writing. When given the opportunity, I also really love traveling.